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Assembly of First Nations Supports Urgent Call to Action by Neskantaga First Nation Dealing with Suicide Crisis





April 30, 2014

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today offered his full support to Neskantaga First Nation who issued a Call to Action to all Canadians to address the crises facing the community. This follows the declaration of a state of emergency by Chief Peter Moonias in the spring of 2013 after seven youth took their lives and 27 community members attempted suicide in a 12-month period. Unfortunately, since that time, three youth have tragically ended their lives.

“First Nations across the country are deeply concerned for the people of Neskantaga First Nation and the AFN fully supports their call for action and attention to address their urgent needs,” said National Chief Atleo. “It was around this same time last year that the community reached out for help in dealing with the tragedies of youth taking their own lives and to address critical community needs. I echo the words of Chief Moonias who says that they have lost too many lives already and there needs to be more awareness about the situation of First Nations in a country as rich as Canada. I stand with all the citizens of Neskantaga in solidarity in their efforts to protect their youth. We need immediate action to address the crisis in the community and as a society we need to take a hard look at the root causes of these problems and work together to create lasting solutions.”

The Oji-Cree community of Neskantaga First Nation, located 433 km north east of Thunder Bay, continues to be plagued by a housing crisis, the existence of mould in most family homes, an exceptionally high unemployment rate, a “boil water advisory” that has been in place for almost 20 years, limited access to affordable and nutritious food, lack of adequate health and mental health services, youth having to leave their community to attend high school, and high rates of prescription drug abuse. These circumstances are inter-connected and are factors in the number of youth suicides.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.


Contact information:

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext. 401; 613-314-8157 or [email protected]

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or [email protected]